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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra: Welcome to Swingsville!

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Even as the likelihood of big-band success keeps shrinking, there are those who willingly laugh at the odds and stay true to their heart, which insists that they keep on swinging even when common sense says they would be better off pursuing other musical avenues. They can be found occupying small pockets of resistance in cities and towns from coast to coast, engaging in a labor of love that is no doubt intellectually and emotionally rewarding but can't possibly pay ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tom Kennedy: Points of View

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Tom Kennedy is one of those behind-the-scenes players who's been all over the place in the jazz world. His bass is adaptable to just about any context, simple or tricky; he's been recruited for a solid low end by players from crooner Tania Maria to prog wizard Derek Sherinian. One of his steadiest ongoing stints has been a spot alongside Dave Weckl in several of his ensembles, mostly (though certainly not always) in the electrified fusion realm. With his fifth ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Bibb: Migration Blues

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Eric Bibb says in the sleeve note to Migration Blues, his most politicized album to date: “The way I see it, prejudice towards our brothers and sisters who are currently called 'refugees' is the problem. Fear and ignorance are the problems. Refugees are not 'problems'--they are courageous fellow human beings escaping dire circumstances." Not the way Donald Trump sees it. Bibb, probably America's most important folk blues artist, shouldn't have much to fear from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harris Eisenstadt: Recent Developments

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Canadian native and Brooklyn resident Harris Eisenstadt has built a solid reputation as a composer, matching accolades for his eclectic expertise as a drummer. His passion as a student of the art has taken him to West Africa, where he has studied the music of the Wolof people and Cuba, where he has delved deeply into Afro-Cuban music. A leader/co-leader on more than two-dozen releases, beginning with Last Minute of Play in This Period (Questionable Records, 2001), Eisenstadt is also ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Masakowski Family: N.O. Escape

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The NOLA Masakowski's are a household name in the New Orleans area. Singer Sasha Masakowski has released several notable CDs including Sasha Masakowski & the Sidewalk Strutters Old Green River (Louisiana Music Factory, 2015); Hildegard (Self Produced, 2015); and Wishes (Hypersoul, 2011). Her father, the principle member here, multi-instrumentalist Steve Masakowski, is on faculty at the University of New Orleans, an educator under whom Katrina-refugee-now-Little-Rock-native Ted Ludwig studied. Bassist Martin Masakowski, Sasha's brother chips in with the one non-family member, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Dwiki Dharmawan's Pasar Klewer Plays Indonesia

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Dwiki Dharmawan's Pasar Klewer Various Locations Bandung and Jakarta, Indonesia March 2-5, 2017 It was supposed to just be a soundcheck and rehearsal. But the energy and focus delivered as Indonesian pianist/composer Dwiki Dharmawan ran his Pasar Klewer band through the various numbers most of this group had recorded in London in 2015 (and had only performed once later in Bali) manifested in what was clearly a tight and orderly rollout. And not without ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derby Derby: Love Dance

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Ormo Records is a small French label dedicated to producing out-of-the-mainstream music that has one foot in the jazz tradition and the other alternatively venturing into post-rock, minimalist, and freely-improvised idioms. Bassist Sylvain Didou is the driving force behind the label's music, as he's composed and appeared on each of their releases so far, one of the most noteworthy being the suitably-titled Order/Disorder, by Oblik (from 2015). Despite its avant-garde characteristics, that album was quite convincingly a “jazz" record, with ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Christian Lillinger’s Grund at Cologne Philharmonic

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Christian Lillinger's Grund Cologne Philharmonic Cologne, Germany March 18, 2017 Many German cities can boast of a vibrant jazz scene. Cologne is one of the most dynamic of them all, with a widespread foundation of educational institutions, popular clubs and broadcasting. Most important, there's a dedicated, cooperative network of well-schooled, non-conforming musicians. One impressive collaborative for just such experienced-based experiments is the septet who form Grund ("ground"), under the compositional direction ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Xavi Reija: Reflections

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Spanish drummer Xavi Reija's previous trio was a fusion outfit with guitarist Dusan Jevtovic and bass guitarist Bernat Hernandez, as heard on Resolution (MoonJune Records, 2016) and Live at RZZ Barcelona (MoonJune Records, 2016). He turns to a traditional acoustic piano trio here, with pianist Nitai Hershkovits and bassist Pau Lligadas. There's a different kind of energy in this band, but there is energy aplenty. That energy is especially audible in a track like “Capella (we still dance)," ...


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